Running a rental business can be stressful. There are various regulations you'll need to understand if you want to avoid paying penalties and ensure that you comply with state and federal law. There's the rent escrow law that requires landlords to set up a rent escrow account when collecting security deposits. Then, there are landlord-tenant laws that govern lease agreements.
Although Maryland does not implement any statewide rent control laws, local ordinances may still restrict tenant evictions and rent increases. In this article, we'll discuss everything you need to know about rent control in Maryland.
Raise Rent in Maryland
There are currently no restrictions on rent increases in the state. It may surprise you to learn that Maryland is not the only state in the union without statewide rental control laws. Other states without such laws include Montana, New York, and Maine.
However, certain municipalities and counties enforce some local laws that restrict a landlord's authority to increase rent and limit rent hikes. However, legally speaking, as a landlord, you are free to increase your rent at any time without violating any state laws.
Although there are no limits to the rent increase, it's important that you set the amount at a fair market price to draw in and retain tenants. Increases to the rent should be sufficient to offset the additional costs you incur for labor, energy, and materials to maintain the rental unit.
Additionally, it's important to remember that there are numerous regional laws and general guidelines that indirectly control rent hikes.
When Rent Increase Is Unlawful
In Maryland, landlords are generally permitted to raise the rent as long as they give tenants sufficient early notice. However, there are specific instances in which it is prohibited:
Raising the Rent in Retaliation
When tenants assert their tenancy rights, such as by complaining about the rental unit, the rent cannot be increased in response. If a landlord's action occurs within six months of something the renter does, it is regarded as retaliation. Here are some examples of when rent hikes are implemented in retaliation against a tenant:
- Making a complaint to the relevant authority about the safety of rental units. Keep in mind that if a rental property is deemed unsafe for habitation, the tenant will need to provide a notice from the Department of Housing and Community Development.
- Complaining to the landlord about a breach of the lease agreement, a legal infraction, or a threat to the health and safety of the leased premises.
- Bringing a lawsuit against the landlord or taking part in one.
- Establishing a union or tenant association or joining one.
When Rent Increases Are Intended to Discriminate Against the Tenant
It is illegal to raise the rent in order to discriminate against a tenant's race, disability, familial status, religion, color, or sex, according to the Federal Fair Housing Act.
Additional anti-discrimination laws have been passed by several local governments, such as those in Montgomery and Frederick County, which forbid discrimination based on a tenant's source of income.
The standard notice period is typically 30 days, but Maryland law does not specify how much notice must be given before increasing a tenant's rent. To modify the rent under a month-to-month lease, landlords must provide the renter written notice of the rate increase.
Some counties and cities have local laws regarding notice periods. Let's take a look at some of them.
With a 90-day notice period, Montgomery County is arguably one of the strictest in Maryland when it comes to providing advance notice.
Takoma Park and Baltimore City
If you live in either of these cities, you will be required to provide tenants 60 days' notice prior to raising the rent on a rental property.
Fixed-term Leases in Maryland
It's important to remember that a landlord is not permitted to raise the rent on a property during a fixed-term lease unless the lease or rental agreement expressly authorizes such an increase.
Understanding Maryland rent control laws is essential if you want to ensure a successful rental business. It's also important to have the right tools at your disposal. With DoorLoop, you can run background checks, see how much the tenant paid, do your accounting, and so much more!
Get in touch with us to learn more, or book a free, no-obligation demo to try it for yourself! Looking for more resources? Download our free forms.
How often can a landlord raise the rent in Maryland?
There are no rent control provisions in Maryland that restrict the number of times per year that a landlord can raise the rent each year. However, it's important to check market prices to ensure that you can attract and retain tenants.
Keep in mind that some cities and counties may impose their own restrictions, so it's best to check local laws before raising the rent.
Is a tenant written notice required?
Maryland does not specify the notice period for a rent increase. However, it does require that the tenant be given proper notice ahead of time.
What do I do if a tenant refuses to pay rent after an increase in the rental price?
Late fees can be imposed if a tenant refuses to pay the rent. After that, the landlord may commence an eviction proceeding to evict the tenant.
When is raising the rent illegal in Maryland?
Yes, in some cases, rental increases may be unlawful. If the price hike is intended to discriminate against the tenant or in retaliation to a complaint, it is illegal.